Discipline: what is it and how do I do it?

“Discipline” actually means “teaching.” Teaching is about setting goals for learning, planning a practical approach, and finding solutions that work. While parenting children, parents are often learning themselves. Finding the facts about what we know works with discipline is a great first step.

“Positive discipline” is respectful of the child. It is nonviolent and includes a process that helps children succeed, gives them information, and supports their growth.

Discipline is a way of teaching children how to:

  • solve problems
  • think for themselves
  • get along with others
  • resolve conflict
  • do the right thing (even when you are not there)

Discipline is not doing something to children; it is working with them appropriately to their developmental level. Understanding how children think and feel is important for positive discipline.  Discipline shows children:

  • what they have done wrong
  • gives them ownership of the problem (appropriate to their age and development)
  • gives them options for solving the problem
  • shows them respect
  • leaves their dignity intact

How do I positively discipline my child?

  • Provide warmth and structure
  • Offer praise and affection regularly
  • Consider what your child is thinking and how they are feeling
  • Talk to your child, so they know what the rules and limits are
  • Plan transitions from one activity to the next
  • Offer limited and realistic choices that you can accept
  • Know what behaviours to ignore
  • Accept that they will make mistakes
  • Be a role model

Let your child know what you expect. Remind them regularly about rules and limits. A good limit:

  • is appropriate to your child’s age and stage of development
  • helps your child learn self-control
  • protects your child and others
  • is explained using simple language
  • is used consistently, respectfully, and kindly

Learning how to manage common challenging behaviours can help as you teach young children using positive discipline.

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Last updated: 2022-07-07